Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Box of Rocks in my Office

To my recollection, there was only one school project that I ever really cared about.  It was the only project in which I totally invested myself ... the one project that I remained proud of longer than the grading period in which it was turned in.

In the fall of 1983, I walked into Mr. Navarre's 8th grade Earth Science class.  Little did I know what I was in for.  Mr. Navarre was an old man that came across to most of the students as a grouch.  He didn't smile much, and the threw erasers.  But what really sticks with me about that class, was this old man's love of rocks.  This was not just his hobby; it was his passion.  Every summer, he drove around the country collecting various rocks and minerals, and over the year, he proved not just his commitment to share his passion ... but actually to share his rocks.  Our major project for the year was to follow very specific step by step instructions to construct our own rock box. (I remember it was very tedious to cut all the partitions, but I remember being diligent with it because I wanted mine to look good.) When we finished it, there were spaces for 50 different rocks and minerals.  And here was the cool part:  for every rock that we memorized the minerals it was composed of, the location it was found, and the use for it, he would give it to us free.  I committed myself to learning all 50.  I really wanted Mr. Navarre to be proud of my work.

So during the 1983-1984 school year, I made this rock box. I took these pictures several weeks ago.  Over 30 years later, this project still sits on a shelf in my office.

Here's the crazy part ... I don't like making things, and I never liked rocks.

But oh ... Mr. Navarre was so passionate about rocks, and he made it clear that there were only three middle schools in the country where students made rock boxes that were this extensive.  I even remember him touting the fact that the cover that we glued on was fire proof.  He was so excited about what he taught us.  He loved those rocks.  And he brought this passion, energy, and enthusiasm into the classroom everyday.

And so I learned to love the rocks.  Mr. Navarre's passion rubbed off on me.

I've thought about Mr. Navarre many times over the years.  Every time someone asks me about a teacher who had an impact on me, he is who I think of.  Think about it ... if you can get an 8th grade boy excited about rocks, thnn you have got it going on as a teacher.

And so I keep this rock box in my office as a reminder ... as a symbol.  To me, it represents the importance of passion, energy, and enthusiasm ... the power to get an 8th grade boy fired up about rocks.  Wherever I go ... and whatever I do ... I hope to always bring some "Mr. Navarre."


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